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An ethics blog for IP attorneys

To Encrypt, Or Not To Encrypt, That Is The Question

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | May 12, 2017

The ABA has dived head first into the pool of law firm cybersecurity.  On May 11, 2017, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 477 (here), which addresses a broad range of issues that lawyers must consider to protect client confidential information from “nefarious actors throughout the internet.” […]

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New Lawsuit Accuses IP Counsel Of Attacking Same Patents It Prosecuted

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | May 9, 2017

It is Ethics 101 that a law firm cannot use its former client’s confidential information in a substantially related matter on behalf of a different client directly adverse to the former client, at least not without the former client’s informed consent.  The reason for this common sense rule, which prohibits “side-switching,” is that a lawyer’s […]

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PTO Suspends PTAB Atty Who Filed Multiple TM Apps For Cannabis Client

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | April 24, 2017

The USPTO has suspended a PTO-employed attorney for thirty (30) days for practicing trademark law before the Office for private clients, in violation of federal conflicts of interest laws.  See In re Tara K. Laux, Proc. No. D2016-39 (USPTO Dir. Mar. 9, 2017).  According to a settlement agreement reached with the OED Director, attorney Tara […]

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Untying The IP Ethics Knot

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | April 17, 2017

Do you worry about ethics in your IP practice?  If not, you should.  There is way too much going on out there, and not knowing what is happening can leave you exposed to ethics and malpractice risk. If you can spare 90 minutes, tune in tomorrow from 1:00-2:30 pm EST for the ABA-IPL Landslide Webinar Series, […]

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You Just Received An OED Bar Grievance. Now What?

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | April 7, 2017

The only time a patent attorney or agent ever wants to hear from the USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline is when they are admitted to the Patent Bar and issued a registration number. Other than that, no news is good news. So if an envelope arrives from the OED (certified mail, return receipt requested), […]

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CLE: Advice of Counsel Defense and Privilege Waivers In Patent Litigation Post-Halo

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 15, 2017

CLE courses seem to be popping up left and right about the impact of the Supreme Court’s 2016 Halo v. Pulse decision reversing the prior Seagate willful infringement standard.  The focus of these other CLEs seems to be more on the substantive law of willfulness and how the district courts have responded to the issue […]

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USPTO Suspends Second Ex-Niro IP Attorney For 18 Months

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 6, 2017

It’s deja vu all over again: a second ex-Niro IP attorney has received an 18-month suspension from practice before the USPTO. Attorney Paul C. Gibbons, one of four attorneys from the now defunct Niro, Haller & Niro who were sanctioned for vexatious litigation arising from the firm’s representation of NPE Intellect Wireless, settled a disciplinary […]

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USPTO Suspends Former Niro IP Attorney For 18 Months Following Patent Litigation Sanctions

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 6, 2017

The fallout from the Niro, Haller & Niro law firm’s doomed litigation on behalf of Intellect Wireless continues.  For patent litigator David J. Mahalek, the most junior member of the Niro litigation team, the disciplinary shoe of the USPTO did not just drop–it kicked him in the teeth with an 18-month suspension of his law […]

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District Court Affirms PTO’s Disbarment Of Patent Agent Who Practiced TM Law

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 4, 2017

On February 27, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia affirmed a decision by the USPTO Director excluding a registered patent agent from practice before the USPTO because the agent practiced trademark law. Factual Background Bang-er Shia became a registered patent agent in 2005; she has never been admitted to the […]

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“The Trademark Company” Pivots To A Copyright Company

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 2, 2017

“The Trademark Company,” whose owner Matthew Swyers agreed last month to give up his license to practice before the USPTO, ending a three-year ethics battle, appears to be alive.  While still operating under the old name, logo and URL, The Trademark Company has shifted gears away from offering trademark-related services and is now offering only […]

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